This Koi Fish Is Worth $1.8m. Here's Why It's So Expensive

This Koi Fish Is Worth $1.8m. Here's Why It's So Expensive

Today, Koi are some of the most expensive pet fish in the world. But why? 

Bloodlines are just as prized in koi as they are in dogs because some of these koi are the result of decades of selective breeding.  Koi breeders mainly select for size and color.  Koi have six types of color cells in their skin. Their cells can be red, yellow, black, white, blue, or metallic.  

In order to get a beautiful, reddish-orange pattern like the one on the $1.8 million fish in the video below, you need to select for fish that have a white body and lots of red cells that concentrate in large patches. Red and white are important colors in Japanese culture, representing joy and purity. But having the right colors is only part of it. 

A koi's color cells sit at different depths in the skin, some right near the surface and some deeper in, which ultimately determines how bright the fish appears. The brighter the fish, the bigger the price tag. Today there are about 120 varieties. To compare, there are about 200 breeds of dogs. But when it comes down to it, breeding koi is a lot harder. A single koi can give birth to hundreds of thousands of baby fish at a time.  That's millions and millions of fish per breeder.  So breeders must choose wisely. One breeder, for example, reports that he starts with 3 million fish and selects 15,000 to raise over the first year. From that he chooses 1,000 to continue to raise the second year.  It's a really hard job for the breeders. But in the end, all that hard work is worth it.  

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